Tokaji Aszú is a wonderful and very special naturally sweet wine from Hungary. It has a long and illustrious history. Tokaiji Aszú comes only from the Tokaji-Hegyajia region in North East Hungary. It is produced from a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű, occasionally from Muscat and Oremus grapes that are affected by Botrytis Cinerea mold. It can only be produced if the climatic conditions are right which is not the case every year.
Tokaji Aszú complements goose liver or goose live paté as well as blue cheeses. It is a wonderful accompaniment to many desserts and sweets (e.g. chocolate). One can also drink it as an aperitif. Once opened the bottle of Tokaji Aszú can be corked and placed in the refrigerator without damaging the taste of the wine. Tokaji Aszú can keep for decades in the bottle.
In sunny weather humidity from the Bodrog and Theiss rivers encourages the Botrytis Cinerea Mold to spread. Thinning and softening the berry skins, evaporation then occurs, shrinking the berries until they reach the most concentrated and desirable state. Acidity is replaced by fine aromatic and fruity tones which are the quality mark of a fine Tokaji wine.
At harvest, the shriveled berries are collected by hand and placed in puttonyos which are baskets that can hold 25kg of such berries. An experienced grape picker can pick 8-10 kg per day. The berries are then transferred into an open tub and crushed to a dough-like consistency with a wine mixer. Care is taken not to damage the grape seeds.
This is a “puttonyo”
Then the dough like substance of 3-6 puttonyos is added to a barrel of 136 liters normal white wine. The more puttonyos the sweeter the eventual wine. Stirring occasionally, the mass is left to soften for 16-48 hours. The juice is than filtered and filled into wooden casks, leaving about 20 cm room for air at the top.
Once bottled the Aszú continues to develop even further. The higher its puttonyos, the longer it can remain in the bottle. The best Aszús can remain 200-300 years in the bottle without loss of quality.
The aroma contain a mixture of Furmint, honey, nut, yellow melon, lychee, apricots and peach taste with a very long aftertaste. It is not a liqueur wine as many imagine and is not a fortified wine such as Port, Marsala or Madeira either. Aszú is a naturally sweet wine.
The Tokaji wine region
Hand pick the dried “Aszu” berries
Normal grape & Aszu berry
Aging the wine in barrels